White Center Jubilee Days fundraiser @ Oktoberfest carnival in Top Hat

September 24th, 2016 at 4:46 pm Posted in White Center Jubilee Days, White Center news | No Comments »

(WCN photos, added Saturday night)

Just got a note from Ron, who says you’re invited to the Jubilee Days fundraiser happening right now (Saturday, September 24th) at the Oktoberfest carnival in Top Hat (at 11225 1st Ave. S., the old Bernie & Boys, future housing development site) – with a beer garden – until 10 pm. We found an online mention here.

The carnival rides and games continue tomorrow (Sunday), too.

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White Center shelter: What the county’s saying, post-meeting

September 19th, 2016 at 10:13 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | 3 Comments »

As noted here over the weekend, King County has posted an FAQ on their webpage about the proposed White Center shelter at the former Public Health clinic on 8th SW at SW 108th. They’ve also added their minutes of last Thursday night’s meeting – read the 9-plus pages of notes here. (Our comprehensive coverage, including video of the entire meeting, is here.)

We had asked some followup questions, and the answers largely came back as the same verbiage in the FAQ.

We asked: How soon will a date be set for the second meeting?

Reply, almost exactly the same as the “what are the next steps?” FAQ reply: “King County will work on suggestions and input given by community members including the possibility of alternate locations and/or reshaping the shelter program. Once this work has been completed, King County will discuss these options with community members.”

We asked: Will the project be put on hold in the meantime as requested, or is it going forward with permit application and whatever work is under way?

The second part was not answered (so we’ll be asking again) – the permit filing is a particularly relevant point, as, before the meeting, the county had told us that they expected to submit the filing right after the meeting. To “will the project be put on hold?” the reply was: We are taking a step back to consider the input we received from the community.

Noting that multiple attendees at Thursday’s meeting had said this had been under discussion for “a year,” without that being refuted by anyone from the county or Salvation Army, we asked if that timeline were true. The reply was almost word-for-word what’s in the FAQ as the reply to “How long has King County been planning to site a shelter in White Center?” – Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a homeless state of emergency last November. Following that declaration, King County began an exploration of county buildings and properties to see if any might be feasible for use as housing or shelter. At the same time, we also looked at our data to determine geographic areas of need. Upon our initial review, the nearly vacant White Center Public Health building entered consideration. The first planning connected to the White Center site began in May with a physical assessment of the site followed by working with partners to develop the service program. Upon completion of this phase, King County sent out the public meeting notice in late August with the meeting being held on Sept. 15.

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October 1st grand opening set for what was ‘traffic garden,’ now White Center Community Bicycling Park

September 19th, 2016 at 12:30 am Posted in Parks, safety, White Center news | 2 Comments »

Back in January, we reported on the plan for a “traffic garden” at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. It’s now less than two weeks from opening, and its name has changed to the White Center Community Bicycling Park. Here’s the official flyer for the October 1st celebration:

We’ll add more information as we get it.

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TONIGHT: Rat City Recon at Southgate Roller Rink

September 17th, 2016 at 7:56 am Posted in Music, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Good thing it’s not an outdoor music festival this time around! 6 pm tonight (Saturday, September 17th), the party starts:

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VIDEO: ‘We won’t let it happen!’ shout furious opponents of King County’s White Center shelter plan

September 15th, 2016 at 9:34 pm Posted in housing, King County, White Center news | 28 Comments »

(Added early Friday: Unedited WCN video of meeting, in its entirety)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

King County promises a second community meeting about its uncloaked-at-the-last-minute plan to open a 70-bed shelter in White Center.

crowd

That followed a tense and intense standing-room-only meeting with more than 100 people, many furious and frightened, saying the shelter proposed for the former Public Health building at 8th and 108th is too close to schools, too close to homes, simply the wrong location.

Some declared they will do whatever it takes to stop it, and were talking about protests and crowdfunding for legal action.

Here’s how the 2 1/2-hour meeting – an hour longer than originally planned – unfolded in TAF’s Bethaday Community Learning Space, close to the location where the county says it wants to open the shelter by November 1st.

The meeting was moderated by Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, who opened it reiterating that the most-recent One Night Count found 10,000 people unsheltered in King County. It is a “there but for the grace of God go I” situation, he stressed. He said he is part of the All Home coalition that works on the homelessness crisis. “With supportive services, this can be a place of hope and healing for the community.” He promised comments and questions/answers will be “audio-recorded” with an FAQ posted on King County’s website.

The county “is determined to hear” what those in attendance have to say, Ramos promised while trying to set ground rules for the discussion. One man said that he felt it was somewhat disrespectful for the meeting organizers to even have to suggest such rules might be needed.

Next to speak, Mark Ellerbrook, the King County official, to whom we spoke for the preview story we published on Tuesday. “The need in this community is very real,” he declared. Ellerbrook reiterated that Southwest King County has the largest number of people living outdoors outside Seattle – at least 100 estimated to be in White Center, sleeping in doorways, parks, other places. Calls to 211 numbered more than 1,300 for the three zip codes that cover the greater White Center area. “There is no shelter” in this area, he again declared, aside from small shelters for women in West Seattle and Burien. The county looks at where it needs services, and this area qualifies, he said. So, they started looking at where they could provide services, “and move (people) into housing.”

As he had told WCN in our interview, the shelter will operate 5 pm to 8 am. Ellerbrook handed the microphone to Maj. Smith and Scott Morehouse from the Salvation Army.

Smith said he has “been doing this a long time” – involved with shelter, addictions, and is Director of Social Services in the Seattle area. “Our flagship programs have become our shelter operations.” Up to 230 beds at three locations comprise the programs right now, he said, and Morehouse is the manager; he said he’s a “member of the White Center community.”

After their short intros, the microphone was handed to Steve Daschle of Southwest Youth and Family Services, a West Seattle-headquartered nonprofit. As he had told the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council months ago, his organization and others are looking at a potential development at the site of this emergency shelter and the neighboring White Center Food Bank. “We have a vision .. of a community service center that could serve White Center and Southwest King County,” working with the WCFB and White Center Community Development Association. In addition to that, they are talking with Capitol Hill Housing to provide “several units of housing” on that site, but he said it’s still early – at least two, three, four years before the building could be built, “a brand new, beautiful resource for the community.”

First person to ask a question was Bobby Beeman of Sky’s Barber Shop and the White Center Chamber of Commerce, asking why White Center businesses hadn’t been notified until just a few days ago.

He said that WC residents seem to believe that businesspeople are “pushing homeless people” from the business district, into residential areas. “I happen to know that the 300 or 400 people you talk about in White Center, if you go out and had conversation with the people you seem to want to help and ask them what they needed, you’ll find that they prefer to be on the fringe, that they don’t want (what) you are going to offer them.” He also brought up what King County’s Ellerbrook had said, that they operate regionally so people don’t have to be from White Center to use a WC shelter, and so on.

Ellerbrook said yes, that’s true, and said that outreach workers try to build relationships with people to bring them in and help with their issues and while it might not click the first time, it eventually does.

Beeman pressed him on the point of the county suggesting that the business community supported this. Ellerbrook said that they had heard “in various meetings” and then said, “I apologize for” not reaching out directly to businesspeople, and he reiterated that they had distributed notices within 500 feet of the planned shelter.

Next person to speak says the intersection “with four schools” is one of the busiest, most dangerous in the area, and he’s concerned that those schools all will be starting around the time that the shelter sends people out for the day. He said that “We’re not going to stand for this to come into this place, if we have to place a human barrier in front of it.” He vowed to inundate the county with e-mails “because we’re not going to have this.” He also said planning for the facility allegedly began a year ago and there wouldn’t even be a meeting tonight if WCCDA’s Sili Savusa hadn’t told the county they had better talk to the community.”

Next, two people who said that transients go by their house and throw trash into their yard, and that a fire was started.

“Send them to Bellevue, send them to Kirkland!” he and his wife shouted, with supportive shouts coming from the audience.

Next, a woman from the Coalition on Homelessness said the problem is that there are people who have nowhere to go. This facility will offer evening and morning meals, which will allow people more time “to work on their jobs.” Many people sleeping outside do work, she said. “I want to call attention to the fact that the people living outside are human beings like the rest of us, we are all people. They are (also) residents of this community.”

“No, no, no,” yell some in the audience.

The advocate said it’s important that people realize drug and alcohol problems are not limited to unsheltered people. “We are talking about people who might have lived in your community before and lost their homes because they lost their jobs.”

“Do you live in White Center?” someone hollered from the audience.

Next person to speak identified herself as an Arrowhead Gardens resident. She said, “We have two encampments next door and we are comfortable with those encampments … When you talk about drugs, you will note that the people who are living there have a sign that says ‘no drugs allowed'” – she appears to be speaking about Camp Second Chance – and she goes on to say it’s important “that you don’t lump all people who are homeless as (if they are) a monstrosity.” She closes by reading a few lines of poetry.

Next speaker is a woman who identifies herself as a mom, and says this is “kind of unexpected.” She voices concern about children walking to school. She wonders why this location and not one that is more out of the way. Ellerbrook answers the question and says that the layout of the building works well for the various types of people they hope to serve, and reiterates that it’s a “temporary use of a county facility that’s vacant at the moment.”

Then a woman who says she is a White Center “building owner” and married to a business owner says she “cleans my parking lot almost every day,” scrubbing away excrement, picking up needles, bottles, cleaning out graffiti. She says she’s concerned that there’s no limit on nights that people can stay. “What incentive are we giving them … it sounds like enabling … I don’t mean to lump this population with going to get loaded, shoot up, stumble into the shelter … this should be a give-and-take and it sounds like take, take, take.” She thinks people using the shelter should have to show proof they are looking for work and trying to better their circumstances. “What are they going to change?”

Ellerbrook: “If we provide a shelter with barriers – they don’t come indoors. If it’s a low-barrier shelter, we get people to come in, and get them to address” their circumstances and challenges “and move into housing.”

Morehouse from the Salvation Army said that adding part-time case management increased “housing outcomes” at their downtown shelter by seven percent. “You said seven percent?” someone shouted, and someone else laughed.

Maj. Smith said that sheltering originally was about just keeping people from freezing to death on the street. “When you start to provide extended services … they will respond … they do respond. Not everybody responds, but those who do, we’ve seen them increase their ability to stabilize and access other services, and it’s a deterrent to the other things that the community faces … without that. … Intervention of this type leads to a decrease” in the problems. Smith mentions that the Salvation Army already has a nearby location (in South Delridge) where they can “engage” with the people who will be in this shelter.

What does “moving into housing” mean? someone asked. It might be “supportive housing,” Ellerbrook said. It might be “rapid rehousing.” But “we know that those folks who enter into housing stay in it for the long term.”

“Who pays for it?” someone asked loudly.

“So that doesn’t mean those people got on their feet,” said the person who asked the question.

A community member said she had been homeless and supports good programs, but she is concerned that this isn’t the best model, that people will just go out in the daytime and hang around in parks. “I don’t think we have the resources to provide public safety … I also have concerns about a faith-based model being used to support homeless people,” and she suggested other types of programs might help better with recovery.

Maj. Smith said that “being a faith-based organization is a lot different than providing faith-based services” – the programs are not faith-based, he said.

The next person mentioned Camp Second Chance (which is just inside the gate to the City of Seattle-owned Myers Way Parcels). “I asked them what they thought their solution would be … and it was that they can’t afford housing in Seattle. I said, ‘at least you’re not doing drugs here,’ and I got this deer in the headlights look, so I’m not so sure.” She went on to say that she has known methadone-using addicts and has had drug-using squatters on her property, and that the situation on Myers Way “has exploded this summer.” She said that opioid problems seem to be the root of the problem, and said that programs such as methadone and implants are keeping people addicted. She thought some different types of programs should be used.

Next speaker declared, “Communication is terrible, especially from King County, so since the county is going to do what it wants to do, regardless of the protest … what is it exactly that is going to happen to us in six weeks, so we know what to go to Joe McDermott and complain about?”

“We are going through the permitting process for ‘change of use’,” Ellerbrook said. “There are also improvements being made to the building – the fire panel, the facility generally, so it can be managed as a shelter. … This is the first that DCHS has heard (about the intersection concerns),” so they will go to the Roads Department about that. The concerns voiced tonight, he reiterated, will be posted on the county website.

Next, a woman who said she had been in human services for 10 years, “I am not unfamiliar, I have been in One Night Count, I have been out on the streets counting … I, as are (many others) here, am a homeowner, in Seola Gardens. We are a mixed-income community. Before the houses were built, we encountered some of the homeless (people) who would come take advantage of a safe haven that is there … we found many individuals who were opioid users, asleep on the vacant lots.” She said she was concerned about the central intake area, and who will be handling the data so that there are no longer people unable to access services. “How else is the county going to help with MIDD” – mental, instable, drug dependency.

Ellerbrook said that’s a levy that’s up for renewal right now, being considered by the County Council right now “that will be able to directly assist in this area.” Who are the other nonprofits that will be working with the shelter users? the woman asked again. Ellerbrook mentioned Sound Mental Health, as he had in our conversation earlier this week. Also: “One of the key interventions we will be using is ‘rapid rehousing’, to get people into housing quickly, for less cost than historically. … If we can get people into housing, they are successful in (staying housed).”

Besides Salvation Army and Sound Mental Health, he said “coordinated entry” would be done, including an initial assessment. “So if somebody presents at the shelter, they would get an assessment at the shelter … and they would be able to get a referral for housing, and that is managed by the county.”

The next speaker said, “I am excited for this … I think this is a good opportunity … I think (I am hearing) a lot of concern from the audience that we are not informed, that happens a lot in White Center… but … the numbers that we heard in the beginning, that there are 300 people in Southwest King County, unsheltered … the need is already here … we need to provide people a way to make better choices … I know that when I am rested and fed a little bit, I am able to think about things like my job …” He asked people to see people who might have the chance to make a transition.

After him, a man who said, “This is an enhanced shelter, which means no screening of occupants, people could show up drunk, stoned, they’ll be admitted – what about the people in there who are trying to get ahead?” And:”This is not about family homeless situations, this is about people who may not want to get help … it’s not for people under 18; existing felons or drug users can take advantage of this … it’s a regional (problem). These people can come from anywhere. … This is a main thoroughfare, it’s already been pointed out this is a dangerous intersection, I don’t want people squatting under my trees, parking their van in front of my house … this hurts the neighborhood, makes it more prone to crime, drugs, it’s not well thought out, you guys are shoving it down our throats. … This is not the right solution.”

Someone shouted from the back, “why not families?”

Ellerbrook replied that couples will be allowed in this shelter, unlike many. He didn’t answer why children would not be allowed.

Next: “We’re not necessarily opposed … we’re pissed off beyond belief that we’re just now getting to talk about it … we’re being told it’s opening November 1st without getting a chance to have a say. We’re not saying that homeless people are the worst of the worst, but 60 percent of them have alcohol, drug problems .. We want to get them help but we’re not being given the chance. Did you talk to the parents of (nearby schools)?”

No! shout many in the audience.

She says she has a daughter at Mount View Elementary and is worried that once the shelter users are sent out for the day, they’ll hang out in the area. The shelter operators will not know if any of them are sex offenders or have criminal backgrounds. “You have no respect for this community,” she shouts.

There’s no response to the statement, and many shout, “NO RESPONSE? ANSWER THE QUESTION!”

Ellerbrook says they reached out to the schools. Then a woman runs up to the front of the room and says she hasn’t been able to sleep for nights since hearing about the shelter plan, and that she talked to Highline Public Schools‘ security chief and that he told her he knew nothing about it.

The woman continues to shout that the children would be walking the same path as the people using the shelter.

One man in the back of the room shouted, “THERE WILL BE NO SHELTER!”

Another woman shouting from the side of the room demanded to know more about when there was alleged outreach to the schools.

Ellerbrook said he talked to a principal last week.

“LAST WEEK?” people shouted.

“You need to talk to the parents!” some shout.

“We will not let it happen! It will not let it happen!” people shouted.

Someone else shouted “GoFundMe page for an attorney!”

Answering a question from a few minutes earlier, Ellerbrook said that funding was planned for the shelter through 2017, and then part of it would be from state funds and “some of the other local dollars we use to provide shelter through the county.”

Next person to speak told those at the meeting that they “have done a pretty poor job” of getting information to the community. “That being said, these people who need the support and the services who are going to be offered at this place are already part of our community, they are already here, and I think there’s a great amount of evidence that these services are successful.” He wanted the Salvation Army to explain what kind of success they’ve said.

Morehouse said, “The people you come into contact with who access shelter and walk away as a success story, I wish we could tell you the numbers are huge … but we know that’s not really possible. What we are committed to is intervention, what we are committed to is trying to find resources for people, trying to help (them) on this almost impossible journey … If we don’t, who will?”

Next attendee said he has had to put up a fence on his property to keep transients away. He had trouble reaching someone in King County to listen to him. “I think you guys are confusing what the problem is.”

“The problem is that we have too many people here already,” someone said.

A woman said, “When you have children in this area, it’s location, location, location … when we call the cops every single night because there are people out back, couples out back, having sex, swearing, leaving needles, condoms, we can’t even have our grandchildren play at our home, when we can no longer use a park because all these people are going to be released out into the community … God bless the homeless, I wish I could give a home to everyone of them, but it’s this location, why could you not have chosen somewhere else? The complaint is location, we might as well be the third frickin’ runway here, we were not given any warning. … you can’t have a discussion for a year and then suddenly” bring it forward.

Pat Price from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council said they received no official notification – it was brought up at their last meeting only because a NHUAC member lived close enough to get the notice about this. (And we should note, the only reason we heard about this is because we routinely cover NHUAC meetings, and are the only media organization that does that – we then had to work through the county to get the notice.) She asked if King County uses “its own Equity Impact Tool” or if it commissioned a housing analysis or opportunity mapping while planning this project. And Price wondered about the meeting notice’s mention that the community could suggest alternate sites.

“This is the worst site!” shouted someone in the back of the room.

Ellerbrook said they heard a suggestion for the DSHS building in downtown White Center, so they investigated it, but: “That’s been fully leased out to Sea Mar,” he said. A man in the back of the room said the county wasn’t aware of that previously.

The next person to speak said she felt “there should be a shelter somewhere in White Center – but, in a residential area, where there are homes north, east, south, west – children walk to school, my child, and it’s not as safe as it was when I used to walk to school – I’m glad this community is here today. These questions haven’t been answered to our community. Our community is suffering from this and we need to talk again. Homelessness in White Center is real … November is only two months away .. this community doesn’t really need a shelter in the residential area.”

Another woman says she found out about the meeting from a neighbor who works with the school district. “You should have had meetings when you started planning a year ago.” She said she had suggested previously that unused school buildings be used. If school district people had been notified back at the start of the planning process, they could have offered those suggestions.

Ellerbrook said they would take that suggestion under advisement as well as possibly changing the discharge hours at the shelter. Then people started shouting, that’s not the problem, it’s the location. Ellerbrook said, “Are there ways that we can mitigate the concerns?”

“No!” shouted many in the crowd.

Ellerbrook reiterated that people who will be served by the shelter are “in the community” now. “We will be doing outreach to those specific locations, to people who are already in your community, who are causing some of the issues (that people at the meeting have brought up).”

The next speaker identified herself as 26 years old and said homelessness has been an issue since before she was born, so, “What is the rush? … If these resources haven’t been available before this, then why are we rushing something that clearly the community is not on board with? This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed in this neighborhood – I have a heart for members of this community (including those who are homeless) and this could be an amazing thing if it had been addressed correctly.”

Ellerbrook addressed that question by saying that they wanted to open it before the worst weather hit, “when we open emergency shelters throughout the county.”

Barbara Dobkin of NHUAC pointed out that this was not brought up at the most recent Community Service Area meeting. “We are presently a community of poverty … We have progressively been getting poorer and this is by design. This isn’t by accident, this is by design. … Why is it that White Center is a catch-all for things that nobody else wants?”

Ellerbrook says again that this will serve people who are already in the community, and that many of them are likely to be members of underserved, underrepresented groups.

A man saying he just moved into Seola Gardens says he is worried about policing, and that “Seattle is making their problems our problems.” He wonders what kind of protection people can expect.

“Self-policing!” says a man in the back. “Arm yourselves!”

“People don’t want to be homeless,” Ellerbrook said in his next reply.

“Baloney!” someone hollered.

Ellerbrook said that if people know they have a spot in the shelter the next night, they won’t be queueing up outside it. “What do you do when it’s full?” an attendee shouted.

Next person said he was frustrated to hear of the 7 percent success rate. He said he got a flyer and ran around his neighborhood telling his neighbors about it, and that they hadn’t heard. He lives near Mount View Elementary and said that he called police a few years back about a prostitution problem. He said that the shelter will bring the neighborhood down. That led to someone else complaining about car prowling problems. “You can’t take care of the people who are here now.”

The next speaker said she had lived in her car for six months, with a baby, “it was not a pleasant experience,” and she had help getting out of it, but had to live up to certain “parameters.” And she was concerned about not knowing who will be in the area. “Think of the children,” she said, “really.”

“I’ve heard a lot about this being temporary – is it temporary until it becomes permanent?” asked the next questioner. She also worried about people coming to the shelter after being “swept” from crime-ridden encampments like Seattle’s “Jungle.”

Ellerbrook reiterated that the time frame would be likely up to three years. And he again said, this is for people who are in the community now. That drew more shouting about the “regional” explanation that had been offered earlier. Regarding the seven percent “success rate,” he said they know that is low, and that’s why they are moving to the “enhanced shelter” plan, which they feel will have a much higher success rate.

Asked if this has been announced, he said, “We have not mentioned this to any homeless people.”

At this point, 8:37 pm, two hours into the meeting, Ramos said there were 25 more people signed up to speak.

The next one said he hadn’t received a notice about the meeting but was wondering if the county would consider screening, or changing the plan to a women’s shelter.

“One of the things we know is that we screen too many people out of shelter,” Ellerbrook reiterated. “Low-barrier shelters” get more people indoors and connected to services.

“The ones who can’t make it elsewhere?” shouted someone.

Next speaker asked again, why won’t this shelter be open to families?

Ellerbrook said that “co-mingled facilities” with singles, couples, and families don’t work, “because of the low-barrier nature of the shelter …”

“Because it’s not safe!” people shouted. “Just say it!”

Ellerbrook said, “What I know from our shelter operators is that they don’t operate shelters that are (co-mingled).”

So why is it safe for the shelter to be near schools? others demanded to know.

The next speaker went up and started shouting in Ellerbrook’s face from inches away.

Then another asked the question posed above – so if they’re not safe under your roof, why are they safe near schools and homes?

Ellerbrook replied, “when we have the shelter open … these folks are going to be indoors, receiving the case-management services they need. … We very clearly heard the concern about children walking down the street.”

At that point, there was another shout about raising money for a lawyer. Another person said, “I think what you people are doing is criminal, and was not done properly … I don’t really have any questions … I don’t really like the answers, they’re not really answers.” He mentioned the disc golf course at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. “It’s taken about 30 years to get rid of homelessness and everybody’s concerns … and you’re inviting this back without (asking anyone) … I found out through neighbors. The location is terrible, around schools, in a park – 300 feet from the building – that’s where they’re going to go. It’s criminal what you guys are doing.”

Next attendee: “I don’t have kids, but it’s about the location. The way you have communicated is atrocious.” She says she enjoys running through the park without worrying … and “we know there’s a homeless problem, and I would love to work with you on a solution, but it can’t be at that location.”

A man who spoke before took the spot of a neighbor and declared again that they will crowdfund for a lawyer and “put an injunction on this. We have to stop it.” He said that as a parent he will be “sleeping with a gun on my chest.”

Former White Center Chamber of Commerce president Mark Ufkes says there’s been an overnight provider in WC “that’s has some success taking people off the street” and that he and his children took people to the shelter to get them off the street. He said he was heartened to hear that many people agree there is a problem with homelessness, and he is glad to hear that White Center is now going to do its part. “We have a lot of people in White Center who need help right now.”

The next speaker echoed that people experiencing homelessness need help.

Ellerbrook said he would be interested in a followup meeting about addressing the problem of homelessness in the community. “There are ways that (the plan) can be modified to address the concerns.”

“We’re willing to be part of the solution – give us the chance!” a woman said.

“I hear you loud and clear – you don’t want it here,” Ellerbrook said, proposing that a second meeting be held to work through concerns.

Get the word out more widely, people said. “Expand the notification!” someone said. “Tell the schools!” someone else said. “Put a stop to it (in the meantime)!” yet another person said.

Ramos then took the microphone and reiterated that they will have another meeting and get the word out.

The next speaker was a young woman who said that she is a Cascade Middle School student and she is not afraid of homeless people but she is afraid of what she has heard, that she might get hurt. “What you’re doing is wrong,” she told the meeting organizers.

Then, Sili Savusa of the White Center Community Development Association, speaking about the community’s strength, and that it “knows how to get stuff done.”

She said she heard about this and it “caught me off guard, and I thought, ‘the community needs to be part of the conversation’, but what I don’t want to see is another community like White Center to be marginalized and have a decision made without them in the room either.” She calls for a citizens’ committee to be created, and to include people experiencing homelessness. “We need to get the right people in the room to talk about this.” And, she says, she is asking that the county put a hold on the plan, “take a step back, look at it, on behalf of the homeless folks who need services all over the community.”

Ellerbrook says he will “take (Savusa) up on (the committee idea).”

We recorded the entire two and a half hour meeting on video and will add that video when it is ready, in the early morning.

7:18 AM FRIDAY: That video has now been added, atop this story.

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FOLLOWUP: Why King County wants to open a White Center shelter for people experiencing homelessness, how it will work, and who it’s for

September 13th, 2016 at 1:11 am Posted in housing, King County, White Center news | 36 Comments »

img_6394
(WCN/WSB photo)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

At least 100 people are sleeping outside in White Center on any given night, it’s estimated.

But there’s no official shelter anywhere nearby.

King County hopes to change that before winter, by converting the former Public Health building at 8th SW/SW 108th into a shelter for 70 people.

We first reported this after finding out about it while covering the September 1st North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, where president Liz Giba mentioned an upcoming community meeting to discuss it. We subsequently obtained and published notice of the meeting, which is set for this Thursday night (September 15th).

When we contacted the King County division in charge of the project, Housing and Community Development, we were offered the chance to talk with its manager Mark Ellerbrook about the project.

Here’s what we learned in a conversation with him on Monday:

Ellerbrook reiterated that County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared homelessness to be “an emergency” as of last November. The annual countywide One Night Count two months later found more than 300 people sleeping outside in Southwest King County alone, the “highest number of unsheltered homeless people outside Seattle,” according to Ellerbrook, with at least 100 of them estimated to be in White Center. The three zip codes that include parts of White Center, meantime, had 1,300 calls last year for homelessness-related assistance.

That indicates a high “level of need,” Ellerbrook observed, not that the county needed the numbers to be aware, since they’ve long been hearing at community meetings about people camping and/or sleeping in doorways and along streets.

But the White Center area has had no shelter to address the need – nothing between an 8-person shelter for women at a West Seattle church and a 9-person shelter for women in Burien. “A pretty high level of need, with almost no shelter services.”

So as the county assessed its resources, with the mission of deploying them toward helping with the homelessness emergency, this building came up. It also was transferred between county departments, making it more easily available for this new use.

It will operate as an “enhanced shelter,” Ellerbrook said, noting that this type of shelter was recommended by some of the reports released last week focusing on the regional crisis, one that operates without some of the restrictions that “are often barriers to people seeking shelter.”

He confirmed that the Salvation Army will operate the shelter, as part of an existing contract with the county, offering case management and other services. We asked about the cost, and he said that hadn’t been finalized yet. (We will check back.) The SA already operates some shelters in county buildings, according to Ellerbrook, and does “a really good job of managing a challenging population”; in addition, it already is involved in the area, with a facility in South Delridge.

The shelter will accept single adults and couples, 18 and over – no children.

The hours will be longer than many “overnight” shelters – opening at 5 pm, offering dinner and breakfast, and closing at 8 am, “so that folks will have more time indoors, with case management connecting in the evening and the morning.” Extra “transportation services” will be offered too, Ellerbrook said; while the location is close to three bus routes serving downtown, “the Salvation Army is going to work to provide van transportation services” so that shelter users can get to appointments, interviews, doctors, something “not typically offered.”

One question asked at this month’s NHUAC meeting – will the shelter be serving just people found to be unsheltered in this area? Ellerbrook says “all of our shelters operate regionally” – so that, for example, someone can show up at a shelter in Bellevue and say they’re from Seattle, and they will still be allowed in.

But, he added, “we’re going to actively do outreach with the Salvation Army and Sound Mental Health to the folks who are homeless in White Center, to make sure they are aware of the shelter, that they can bring their belongings and leave them (at the shelter) even when it’s closed during the day, that it’s OK for couples and pets.” The county already has outreach “in this community,” he said, including at the White Center Food Bank next to the planned shelter site, and at areas where people experiencing homelessness are known to be camping, such as along Myers Way.

Shelter users will not be screened for criminal backgrounds. “These are people who are in the community now – whether they are a felon, or someone just down on their luck, they’re camping in green spaces … our hope is to bring them into a known location like (this) so we can get them connected to services and housing and make them more of a known quantity to all the service providers.”

Also: Alcohol and drug use will not be allowed in the shelter, but if people are under the influence when they arrive, that will not keep them out. “What we find is that most folks who come in are quite tired,” Ellerbrook said.

There will be no limit on nights that people can stay in this shelter. “We often find people might come in for a short period of time, some for a long time … we really hope to move people through the system” and get them into housing, says Ellerbrook.

We asked if the building will be undergoing any major alterations to transform it into a shelter. No, said Ellerbrook, but after the community meeting, they will be applying for a permit that he says is required for “change of building use.” They hope to be able to open by November 1st, while realizing that’s a “tight timeline.”

The meeting notice also promises a discussion of the site’s future, potentially a mixed-use project with affordable housing and offices for service providers. Steve Daschle of West Seattle-based Southwest Youth and Family Services talked about this at last xx’s NHUAC meeting, and he and White Center Community Development Association executive director Sili Savusa will be at this Thursday’s meeting to discuss it.

In the meantime, Ellerbrook says the shelter could be in operation for three years.

Is the county looking at any additional potential shelter sites in White Center?

“We’re not planning anything beyond this right now,” Ellerbrook replied. “Our hope is that we will be able to get people connected and move them out” into real housing. “We hope we can move the needle on homelessness in this particular region.”

And if they can … “we might be able to re-evaluate the need for this facility.”

The community meeting on Thursday (September 15th) is at the Bethaday Community Learning Space in Dick Thurnau Memorial Park (635 SW 108th), 6:30 pm.

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FOLLOWUP: Next week’s meeting about emergency shelter on 8th SW

September 9th, 2016 at 5:31 am Posted in housing, White Center news | 5 Comments »

(King County Assessor’s photo)

In our coverage of this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, we mentioned NHUAC president Liz Giba‘s announcement of a King County meeting next Thursday regarding a “temporary emergency shelter” planned for the old Public Health building at 10821 8th SW.

We’ve since obtained the county’s official notice. See it here, as a PDF; below is its text:

Community Services Division
Housing and Community Development
Department of Community and Human Services

Proposed Project: Temporary White Center Emergency Overnight Shelter

Meeting Date and Time: September 15, 2016, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Meeting Location: TAF Bethaday Community Learning Space, 605 SW 108th St

King County Department of Community and Human Services invites the public to attend a meeting to learn about a proposed temporary, emergency overnight shelter at the former White Center Public Health building located at 10821 8th Ave. SW, Seattle` 98146 (Parcel No. 062304-9405). In addition to providing emergency overnight shelter to approximately 70 people, the operator will also provide outreach to people who are homeless in White Center, assistance in finding permanent housing, and other services. There will also be an opportunity to learn about long-term planning for the site.

Alternative sites for emergency shelter in the area may be proposed by the public. People may monitor the progress of the permitting process by contacting the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review or by viewing the department’s website.

For more information contact Valerie Kendall by phone at 206-263-9076 or email at valerie.kendall@kingcounty.gov.

As previously reported here on WCN, long-term planning for the site includes a potential development to house nonprofit service providers and to provide affordable housing units – no specifics, though, to this point.

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White Center restaurants: Drunky’s Two Shoe BBQ coming to ex-DK Café site

September 8th, 2016 at 7:05 pm Posted in Food, restaurants, White Center news | 2 Comments »

(WCN photo from mid-August)

7:05 PM: You might already have figured this out from the Airstream trailer that’s been on the site a while, but we hadn’t had official confirmation until a liquor-license application showed up online today: Drunky’s Two Shoe BBQ is indeed what’s taking over the old DK Café site at 16th SW and SW 98th. Its first location is in the Fremont-to-Ballard area known as Frelard. We’ve put in another request for comment to see how soon they’re hoping to open and will update whenever we hear back.

8:01 PM: Just got a reply from Nate Rezac:

We’re very happy and excited to open up in White Center soon! We’re shooting for the first week in November. We’re bringing our same specialty smoked meats, sauces, and rubs from our Ballard location.

The new location will have a grill and fryer, so we have some surprise menu items in mind. The space will have the same type of authentic barn wood walls and shack-like feel. We’re building two large booths, “Jesus” and “Elvis” — themed for large group reservations — a wraparound outdoor patio, and a second edition of our crazy clown bathroom. On the south side of the building we’re constructing an outdoor event space with a stage and outdoor bar built into our Airstream trailer. We’re planning on live music a few nights a week, but that’s still in the works.

Ultimately we want the place to be family-friendly but stocked with a full bar and adult slushies.

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VIDEO: September’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

September 6th, 2016 at 11:45 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 8 Comments »

In our video, you’ll find this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting from Thursday, September 1st, led by president Liz Giba. Pull the cursor ahead to just past two minutes in, to get past the roll call and to the start of discussion.

Before the first scheduled guest, there were community announcements, followed by Giba’s announcement of a meeting scheduled at 6:30 pm Thursday, September 15th, about a “temporary homeless shelter” proposed for the old Public Health building next to the White Center Food Bank.

The proposal, according to the announcement that was read, is to provide emergency overnight shelter for 70 people experiencing homelessness in the White Center area. The Salvation Army would operate the shelter from 5 pm to 8 am; evening and morning meals would be provided, and the people in the shelter would be offered assistance in finding permanent housing and other services.

As we have reported previously, the building is proposed for future redevelopment as a mixed-use building with space for nonprofits and low-income housing.

Concerns expressed at the meeting included questions about where the shelter users would be going during the day, and whether White Center truly had 70 people experiencing homelessness and unable to find shelter.

The September 15th meeting is set for the Bethaday Community Learning Space at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. We are working to find out more about the proposal and the meeting, since it doesn’t appear an announcement was sent to media.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: At 19 minutes into our video, the first scheduled guest was brought up, Christine Jensen, invited to talk about the process of updating the King County Comprehensive Plan for the first time since 2012. Proposed changes have been under review since March, she said; just last week, Councilmember Rob Dembowski proposed a “striking amendment” with changes and additions suggested for what King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed. She said some of the key proposed changes involve toughening policies related to equity and climate change. And she highlighted a change related to the Community Service Areas – such as North Highline – that could enable a return to “sub-area planning.” North Highline would be scheduled to start a “sub-area planning process” next year, which would include “significant outreach with the community.”

How would potential Seattle annexation – which might even come to a vote next year – affect that? asked NHUAC board member Elizabeth Gordon. Jensen replied that it would go forward either way – “it would probably just have a different focus if annexation gets approved.”

If projects on the drawing board now turned out to be dissonant with equity changes in the Comp Plan once it’s passed – likely by year’s end – would they be stopped? Jensen said she couldn’t speak to that.

Next step in the process of reviewing the plan was a King County Council committee meeting set for earlier today (Tuesday, September 6th) and one of the last steps will be a public hearing tentatively set for November 28th, Jensen said. Find out more – including how to comment, in the meantime – on this page of the county website.

ANNEXATION: A spirited discussion with board members and attendees followed the Comp Plan agenda item. The board discussed coming up with “minimum requirements” for Seattle to meet, even before it would consider whether to support potential annexation.

(By the way, we checked with Seattle’s point person on the issue, Kenny Pittman, recently. One point: No one filed an appeal of the King County Boundary Review Board‘s approval of potential Seattle annexation by the deadline in mid-August; another, Pittman told us there is no date set yet for potential next steps by Seattle’s mayor and council to consider sending annexation to North Highline voters.)

TOP HAT PROJECT: A fair amount of discussion was also devoted to the plan for a multi-family-housing development on the old Bernie and Boys market site in Top Hat (11225 1st Avenue South). Giba noted that the project had recently gone before the Washington State Housing Finance Commission for funding. On its website, we found notice of a July 28th public hearing, describing the project, Vintage at Southside, as “a 298-unit multifamily housing facility … (with a) percentage of the total units … set aside for persons or households with low incomes.” Its estimated cost: $71 million. Minutes of the public hearing say no one from the public testified but the commission heard from Vintage Housing president Ryan Patterson, who said the project will include “an onsite business center, bicycle storage, and a playground.” Further elaborating on the low-income aspect of the project, he is quoted as saying that 100 percent of the development will be “at 60 percent of the area median income and will set aside 20 percent of the units for households with disabilities and will include 18 live/work units and set aside 20 percent of the units for large households.” A document on the King County website (which has a different address, 11241 1st Ave. S.) says four buildings are planned.

The company’s closest complex appears to be Vintage at Burien, described online as a seniors-only community, 55+.

NO CRIME REPORT: The King County Sheriff’s Office was unable to send a representative. It was mentioned that the newest date for their storefront move to Steve Cox Memorial Park is October 1st.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets first Thursdays, 7 pm, at the North Highline FD HQ; watch northhighlineuac.org for updates between meetings.

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Car vs. bar: Vehicle crashes into Locker Room

September 5th, 2016 at 7:42 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 8 Comments »

7:42 PM: Thanks for the tips and photos, starting with this one from Pam via Twitter:


From Jill, another view:

And here’s a look at the authorities on scene, who, Jill says, have to strategize how the vehicle will be towed:

Noble Barton next door is OK, we’re told, but you might recall a similar crash into its door last January.

8:43 PM: Another photo from Jill, showing the damage to The Locker Room’s facade after the car was pulled away:

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WHITE CENTER BIZNOTE: Uncle Ike’s now open

August 31st, 2016 at 10:20 am Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 2 Comments »

White Center’s second recreational-marijuana store is open. It’s a franchised location of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop, whose original location is in Seattle’s Central District. Proprietor Daniela Bernhard says the store soft-opened last week at 9822 15th SW “with little fanfare – we’ll plan on a grand opening of sorts at a later date.” They’re open noon-8 pm for starters, and Bernhard says the store “does have a medical marijuana endorsement and we will be serving patients as soon as there are medical products available on the market, and the kinks in the medical system have been worked out sufficiently. We do of course carry a number of recreational products that many patients are find helpful for their wellness needs. The shop has a great deal of parking, with exceptional ADA accessibility.” Her background includes four years of operating the dispensary Northwest Patient Resource Center at 35th/Roxbury.

The first recreational-marijuana store in White Center is Bud Nation at 9640 16th SW; to the east, the neighborhood of Top Hat has three, and to the north, West Seattle’s first licensed store, Origins, is at 15th/Roxbury, though it’s filed with the state to seek a move a few miles north into the West Seattle Junction area.

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UPDATE: Overnight power outage in parts of White Center, West Seattle

August 31st, 2016 at 12:56 am Posted in utilities, White Center news | 3 Comments »

(Map of outage area, from Seattle City Light website)

12:56 AM: More than 3,500 homes/businesses are without power in parts of White Center and southeast West Seattle, according to Seattle City Light‘s outage map. No word yet on the cause.

1:33 AM UPDATE: 90 percent of those who lost power got it back around 1:15 am, after about 45 minutes. City Light’s map still shows almost 300 homes/businesses in White Center still without power:

Commenters here and on our partner site West Seattle Blog have mentioned the utility/emergency response centered at 8th/Roxbury; here’s what SCl just tweeted about the cause:


6:30 AM: Power has since been fully restored to the entire affected area.

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11 bands set for Rat City Recon 2016 at Southgate Roller Rink

August 30th, 2016 at 10:59 am Posted in Fun, Music, southgate, White Center news | 2 Comments »

Just out of the WCN inbox – the lineup for this year’s Rat City Recon, a music-and-more festival planned for September 17th at Southgate Roller Rink:

If you wanna rock, you gotta roll down to White Center for the 4th Edition of RAT CITY RECON! All the Recon action will be happening at Southgate Roller Rink. Eleven bands on three stages.

Rat City Recon and Monumental Undertaking present

RAT CITY RECON 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016 – 6 pm-2am

Southgate Roller Rink, 9646 17th Ave SW

$10 at the door, or advance will call tickets available (here)

21+, valid I.D. required

THE BANDS:

Pink Parts
ex-Licks
Githyanki
Tough Times
Slow Elk
The Grindylow
Rat City Ruckus
Glose
Wild Powwers
Stallion
Heiress

Beer & cider available in beer garden outside and indoors at the bar; event is 21+, VALID I.D. REQUIRED!

Food vendors – Sweet Lou’s Wings, more TBA

If you want to roller skate: $4 skate rental fee or bring your own; everyone skates at their own risk

Public transportation/ride share: Metro buses 60, 120, and 128; Car2Go home area ends one block north of Southgate Roller Rink at SW Roxbury Street, so you can park and walk easily to the venue

Recon 2016 is sponsored by: Full Tilt Ice Cream, Mac’s Triangle Pub, Match+Gasoline LLC, Noble Barton, Proletariat Pizza, Rat City Bikes, Rat City Records, Southgate Roller Rink, Zippy’s Giant Burgers

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THURSDAY: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meetings resume so you can ‘reconnect’

August 29th, 2016 at 8:07 am Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 3 Comments »

Summer’s ending and community-meeting season is restarting. First up: The community council for White Center and vicinity invites you to its first post-summer meeting, 7 pm Thursday (September 1st). From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

Mark your calendars and plan on joining NHUAC, North Highline’s volunteer community council, at the September 1st meeting. Through its “All Are Welcome!” community meetings, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) aims to add opportunity to our community’s equation:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard.

The “Comp Plan” is King County’s vision for where and how growth should be located in unincorporated areas, including North Highline. The plan includes policies relating to land use, economic development, housing, parks, other services, facilities, and transportation.

This month’s meeting is an important one if you want to know what King County is planning for North Highline. We will be joined by Christine Jensen. Christine is a land use and regional planning policy analyst for the King County Council. She is the lead staff for the Council’s review of the 2016 Comprehensive Plan.

Christine will provide information and updates on the Council’s review of the Executive’s proposed 2016 Comprehensive Plan. Her presentation will include a summary of key policy issues that the Council is evaluating, an update on the review and adoption schedule, and provide opportunities for comments.

If you have felt a little out of touch over the last 2 months, this is your opportunity to reconnect with the community. Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer will be back as usual. We are Deputy Bill’s first and main responsibility with the Sheriff’s Office. In addition to updating us on what has been happening in North Highline, he is sure to be listening to comments and concerns made by our community members, and offering his perspective about how we can work together to make North Highline a safer and healthier place.

This will be our first community meeting after our summer break so please take this opportunity to reconnect, learn and share what is happening in North Highline. Hope to see you on September 1st at 7 pm!

NHUAC meets at the North Highline Fire Station,1243 SW 112th Street in White Center; parking and entrance are in the back of the building.

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BACK TO SCHOOL: Most Highline Public Schools classes resume Thursday

August 28th, 2016 at 6:49 pm Posted in Highline School District, White Center news | Comments Off on BACK TO SCHOOL: Most Highline Public Schools classes resume Thursday

Just in case you were wondering:

It’s back to school this week for most students in the Highline Public Schools district. First- through twelfth-graders resume classes this Thursday; kindergarteners don’t go back until September 7th.

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White Center coffee: New owners for Caffé Delia, new name ahead too

August 27th, 2016 at 1:51 pm Posted in Beverages, Businesses, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center coffee: New owners for Caffé Delia, new name ahead too

With a two-phase announcement this week, Caffé Delia in downtown White Center is changing hands after 5 years. First its owners Delia and Matt announced that they had sold the shop – then a few days later, Burien Press announced itself as the new owner, saying a new name and other details are forthcoming. The shop will close for at least some part of September, the new owners say, as they create its future, adding in their announcement: “Our intention is to create something that is both honoring to the people and history of White Center and part of wherever White Center chooses to go in the future.” If you want to wish Delia and Matt well before they move on, they say this Monday (August 29th) will be the shop’s final day as Caffé Delia.

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Shop cat missing from Meat the Live Butcher

August 25th, 2016 at 3:57 pm Posted in Pets, White Center news | Comments Off on Shop cat missing from Meat the Live Butcher

Be on the lookout!

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White Center-based Orchestra of Flight needs you!

August 24th, 2016 at 10:22 am Posted in Arts, White Center news | Comments Off on White Center-based Orchestra of Flight needs you!

Percussionists and string players are being sought by The Orchestra of Flight. Here’s the announcement:

The Orchestra of Flight, a community orchestra based in White Center, invites string players and percussionists to join us for our new season, beginning September 12, 2016. We rehearse Monday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 PM at Mt. View Presbyterian Church in White Center. No auditions are required. We are a noncompetitive, friendly organization. Our mission is to bring live orchestral music to communities whose members may have difficulty attending concerts in traditional venues. Come and have fun while improving your musical skills and sharing the gift of music with others. For more information, please visit our website, www.orchestraofflight.org, or contact us at info@orchestraofflight.org.

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VIDEO: RV burns in White Center, nobody hurt

August 19th, 2016 at 5:42 pm Posted in fire, White Center news | 4 Comments »

(WCN reader video)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 5:42 PM: Maybe you saw the smoke – that RV caught fire on SW 100th by 14th SW in downtown White Center this afternoon.

(WCN photo by Patrick Sand)

North Highline Fire responded, and Seattle Fire sent an engine to help. Our crew at the scene was told nobody was hurt, and the cause is under investigation. You’ll want to avoid the intersection a while longer as they work to get the damaged RV in a position where it can be towed.

ADDED 7:06 PM: Thanks to the reader who sent the video we’ve added atop this story. You can see why the side of White Center Square (which opened six years ago) was scorched; at least one window shattered from the heat, at Aaron’s Bicycle Repair, reader Gill tells us – you can see it behind the RV in Gill’s aftermath photo:

Cory sent this photo from the other side of the burned RV:

Gill reports Fire District 2 (Burien) was on scene too and investigating.

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STAGE 1 BURN BAN: Now in effect in unincorporated King County

August 19th, 2016 at 7:50 am Posted in fire, King County, safety, White Center news | Comments Off on STAGE 1 BURN BAN: Now in effect in unincorporated King County

Just announced by the county:

The King County Fire Marshal today issued a burn ban in unincorporated areas of the county to prevent wildfires during the hot, dry conditions. In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for this weekend.

This is a Stage 1 burn ban and applies to all outdoor burning except for small recreational fires in established fire pits at approved campgrounds or private property with the owner’s permission. Recreational fires can pose a hazard so please use extra caution and consideration this weekend.

Recreational fires must:

-Be built in a metal or concrete fire pit, such as those typically found in designated campgrounds; and not be used as debris disposal

-Grow no larger than three feet in diameter

-Be located in a clear spot free from any vegetation for at least 10 feet in a horizontal direction, including at least 25 feet away from any structure and allow 20-foot vertical clearance from overhanging branches

-Be attended at all times by an alert individual and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire.

For properties located within cities, contact your local jurisdiction for requirements. This ban remains in effect until further notice.

The King County Fire Marshal will post updates on the burn ban on the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review website.

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